James Ball (Research Analyst)

We are on the verge of a new and exciting time for gaming as companies continue to push the boundaries of technology for immersive experiences. From curved displays and sophisticated water-cooling systems to ray tracing and the newest generation of consoles — we have a lot to look forward to.

As someone who plays games on PC, console, and mobile, it is very interesting for me to see how developers are using these new technologies to add new experiences for players.

VR Gaming

Adding a 4th dimension when creating games is a whole new experience for developers and how they tackle the development process. As hardware becomes more powerful and software becomes robust, growth opens the market for more developers to explore this gaming segment.

The development of VR also presents significant challenges to developers. There are many choices to create content for different types of headsets. Development studios that focus only on VR games are attracted to the independence of standalone units like Oculus and HTC Vive.

Console VR headsets, such as PlayStation VR, have the backing of existing studios and a compatible machine to leverage from, but developers must decide which existing games could be recreated in VR. Standalone and console headsets will remain the driving force behind this growth but are not the only way to experience VR games.

Mobile VR experiences are also a viable solution for developers, although they are bound by the device and its structure, and there have been many inventive headsets, even cardboard VR structures such as from Google.

So all this has already been happening, but the COVID-19 pandemic has given further impetus to the growth of VR. As most people have been in some version of lock down over the past few months, many have spent increasing amounts of time at home, and VR experiences have been a great way to break the cycle of boredom, especially because it’s the most immersive experience someone can have in gaming.

Cross Platform Development

Another development trend is the increasing support for cross-platform gaming. For consumers to play with each other regardless of platform gives a new advantage for some titles over others and can make certain games stand out.

This has anticipated for a long time, but only a select few large titles, such as Minecraft, some Call of Duty titles, Fortnite, and Rocket League, have full cross-platform support. Allowing support for many platforms and bridging them together is a challenge, but it will become more and more common especially for the newest generation of consoles.

We are also seeing mobile support for some titles as the market recognizes the value of the mobile gaming space and the larger market it can capture. Cross-platform gaming has been very beneficial to players during lock down.

Groups of friends can connect from home even when some people have different consoles or platforms, meaning that although there is a limited choice of games it is more inclusive. We have seen a huge increase in gaming over these lock down periods, especially in titles with cross-platform functionality.

Mobile Gaming

Mobile gaming is the biggest segment within the market for revenue and is still projected to grow further as hardware becomes more powerful and closer to its console and computer cousins. It is one of the most followed development trends as the more traditional gaming development companies gravitate towards mobile development, not only for new intellectual properties (IP), but also for pre-existing game titles as a new platform for revenue.

This comes with its own challenges as the form factor does not have any peripheral controllers for actions but must happen on-screen. This then poses a mobility-versus-game play experience issue as you cannot immerse yourself like you can with bigger screens or VR experiences.

The benefits of mobile gaming is not lost on smaller developers as it appeals to the smaller budgets for their games. It can also create different revenue models, whether it be purchasable one-off games or freemium games (free to play games that offer micro-transactions as the main source of revenue).

Like all other forms of gaming, mobile has also seen an upsurge due to the pandemic and lock downs. The limited number of screens for the number of people in a household can mean that a mobile phone is a perfect substitute.

AAA titles and adventure titles have seen the greatest uptick as many hyper-casual games tend to have play boundaries as consumers turn to more lasting game play experiences.

Backwards Compatibility

Another generation of consoles is upon us. It has become more and more important to make previous titles backwards compatible or remaster older titles. The more generations of console there are the more questions arise.

For developers there are some issues. For example, which games should they remaster, especially if there is not a clear revenue stream? This is particularly relevant for bigger studios with many IPs, as there is an element of nostalgia among players.

But backwards compatibility can also be a great tool to drive hype among a community. For example, the recent remaster of the Crash Bandicoot series received so much attention that the release of a 4th title will feed into the nostalgia of the series.

Backwards compatibility and remastering titles will continue to be a major part of gaming. As people have been stuck at home for long periods, many have been going back and playing older games.

This nostalgia trip has given game developers a great opportunity to recreate older IPs and titles. A stronger community can create greater commitment among developers.

Conclusion

Gaming continues to evolve and create new experiences for players, whether through a new form factor or by tapping into nostalgia. There are plenty of development opportunities in the gaming space, although not without issues.

The current pandemic has boosted these trends and shown how useful they can be, especially as other technological and entertainment sectors have struggled to be profitable.

 

Read more:

Will the Rise of Games-as-a-Service Lead to Longer Game Lifecycles?

Digitization: Leading Games Into the Digital World

Gaming in Lockdown: Good for Cloud?

If you want to learn more about this topic or have any questions, please contact James Ball, or head over to https://uk.idc.com and drop your details in the form on the top right.

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